By Frank Amponsah
Government has begun comprehensive audits of various State institutions as part of efforts to fight corruption, with the findings revealing the depth of the rot that has almost become the character of the way public resources are utilized.
This was revealed by the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at the launch of a book entitled “Making Africa Work”, on Wednesday.
According to him, there are interesting findings on the way people perform public duties and deliver public services.
“We have also taken a new law to Parliament to create an Office of a Special Prosecutor to fight corruption and moved to make procurement transparent by implementing an e-procurement platform a few weeks ago.”
He said, notwithstanding steps taken by governments including that of Ghana, African economies face a challenge of creating jobs, stressing that the most important issue facing African countries today is that of unemployment, “…especially youth unemployment.”
The President also indicated that of the 1.2 billion 15 to 24-year-olds in the world – 200 million of whom are in Africa – about 75 million are looking for work adding that Africa has the youngest population in the world and about 10 million to 12 million young people join the labour market each year.
“…This means that even to keep the unemployment at current levels, African economies have to create some 10-12 million jobs a year. To reduce the current levels of unemployment, many more jobs would have to be created. This is the challenge of the century for African countries. The issue of youth unemployment is not only an economic issue, but has become a security issue as we have seen from the Arab spring, where youth unemployment and discontent provided the spark for the uprising in Tunisia,” he said and mentioned that, “In Ghana, about 60% of the unemployed are in the 15-24 years age group. The interesting aspect of unemployment in Africa is that it is occurring within the context of underdevelopment, with so much work that needs to be done.”
Nana Akufo-Addo who received cheers from the gathering mentioned that for those of have who have been given the privilege to lead their various countries, they have always been faced with the question of why Africa, a continent endowed with so much wealth and natural resources, continues to lag behind other continents.
“Why are things not working in our countries the way they do in other parts of the world? How can we bring about the changes required to make Africa work? “Making Africa Work” is, therefore, a major contribution to the discourse on African economic development,” he said.
To him, work in the areas of infrastructure, roads, railways, water transportation, housing, energy, agriculture, schools and hospitals, dams, among others, is needed for economic development, whilst skilled workers such as teachers and nurses, doctors, engineers, accountants, planners, architects, chemists, plumbers, mechanics and others are also in short supply relative to demand.
President Akufo-Addo believed that employment is created when goods and services are produced for which there is a demand and urged leaders to be conscious of the fact that when it comes to global market place, every other country is a competitor.
“There is no separate global standard reserved for African countries because they happen to be African. The competition is ruthless. We cannot enter into this competition with a mindset of dependency. We must build economies beyond aid.”
Making reference to Ghana example, the President averred that key on his government’s agenda is job creation, where they recognize that the ability of government to create jobs on its own is limited.
“Job creation is largely a private sector phenomenon. It is for this reason that we have set out to build the most business friendly economy in Africa. We are, therefore, moving quickly to create an environment that will unleash the innovative and entrepreneurial instincts of the Ghanaian people to drive rapid growth and job creation. The major opportunities for job creation that my government is pursuing are in a few selected areas,” he said.
He pointed out that agriculture continues to be the anchor of the country’s economy, with more than half of our workforce drawing their living from it hence the most important opportunity for job creation.
“Our planting for food and jobs programme has already registered 185,000 farmers against a target of 200,000 in all the 216 districts. Of note, 34,000 of these farmers were registered electronically. To boost the programme, government is bearing 50% of the cost of fertilizer for the farmers, and to date 80,037 tonnes of our targeted 156,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer have been distributed to farmers enrolled on the programme. Furthermore, we have made funding available for the 1 village 1 dam policy in the 2017 budget.”